Simplot Australia has launched a two-year, A$2 million (About US$1.5 million)project to produce healthier processed potato products after receiving a food innovation grant from the Australian federal government.
"People want healthier foods and we'd like to develop french fries and other deep-fried products that don't have as much fat and have some nutritional content," Simplot executive general manager of quality and innovation Callum Elder said.
"We will work with growers to look at cultivars, breeding practices, the types of potatoes grown, other varieties that are available and storage methods. We are looking for particular varieties in regards to taste and nutritional content."
Simplot processes about 300,000 tonnes (330,693 tons) of Tasmanian-grown Russet Burbank and Ranger Russet potatoes a year. It supplies national brand product as well as fish and chip shops and other major fast food outlets.
"It's quite a challenge for us to produce a consistent product all year round," Elder said. "There may be better ways and new ways to provide extra benefits for consumers."
The research project comes at a time when major retailers are moving into house brands and sourcing cheaper product from China and other countries.
"We can't compete against China," Elder said. "You have to come up with products to differentiate from your competitors."